Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: 9/23/2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: daredevil, therapy, falling in love, family
Format read: ARC paperback from the publisher. (Thanks!)
Summary: Dyna loves how she feels when she takes risks. When she gets seriously hurt in a fall, her mom forces her into a therapy program that she finds totally laughable. She doesn’t plan on doing anything out of her comfort zone ever again, even if the doctors do say her ankle can get better. But meeting the people in her group especially a war vet a few years older than her makes her wonder if she can find a balance in her life.
So 192 pages is short for a young adult book, right?
The size intrigued me because there’s only one other I can think of (Something Like Normal by Trish Doller) that manages to tell a complete story in a compact book. Could Adrenaline Crush do the same?
For the most part, it did. Crompton gave us a great sense of this supportive and unconventional family, Dyna’s thirst for adventure, and how her fall makes her rethink why she loves to do things that give her a crazy rush even if it means risking her health and her life. She’s never thought about consequences before because she’s never had to. So now what?
Her accident not only changes her own way of thinking but it also alters her mom’s usual easy-going nature. Suddenly, Mom is feeling over-protective and wondering if her and her husband have given their kids too much freedom to pursue what they wanted. The lack of boundaries lands one kid in the hospital and Dyna’s older brother is wasting his time smoking up and avoiding decisions about his own future. On the other hand, Dyna’s dad is confused by this change in his wife and urges his daughter to get healthy and get back on the saddle.
Then there’s Jay — a boy from Dyna’s school who ends up at the scene of the accident, saves her, and becomes her boyfriend. Their attachment to one another is based on Dyna’s accident more so than knowing each other well. Don’t get me wrong — he’s totally devoted but at some point, the two were going to have to discuss how they fell for each other so quickly. Was it a real or was it kind of convenient?
See? That’s a lot for 192 pages and I haven’t even talked about the therapy center yet. An oddball group of people of various backgrounds and ages talking in a circle about their fears and what they want to overcome. Dyna thinks it’s a bit hokey but even her cold heart is melted when she starts to get to know these people and takes part in field trips to help them. The instantly good looking Pierce helps a bit with that too. He was injured in the war, helping out friends and he’s returned to the therapy group to assist. But you can tell he is still healing too.
Obviously, Pierce and Dyna already have more in common than her and Jay. I’m not a fan of love triangle scenarios but I truly believe that you cannot help who you fall for and these two develop a friendship before they are talking about “what this all means”. Crompton handled the boys in this story really well. It was respectful and it felt authentic.
Could Adrenaline Crush worked better as a longer book? In some ways, yes. I would have liked to see a better developed resolution, more dialogue with her family (they are just so great), and more of a glimpse into Dyna’s thinking process as she seesawed between being a risk taker and playing it safe. Interference from her parents would have worked well here too. All in all, the book kept me interested and was definitely enjoyable, even if it won’t be a forever favorite.
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(From Lindsey Lane:) When I go into a school for an author visit, I always tell students that the cool thing about writing is that there are no right or wrong answers. There’s spelling. There’s grammar and punctuation. But really, there is no right way to tell a story. For me, as long as I’m telling a story that is true to a character’s heart then I’m doing my job as a writer.
When I started writing EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, it was a series of linked short stories, all of which occurred around a patch of dirt by the side of the road, which is called a pull-out. You see, I woke up from a dream and saw a boy standing in a pull out and wondered what the heck he was doing there. Then a lot of different characters showed up at the pull out, each for a different reason, each with a different desire. Eventually I discovered Tommy, a brilliant, socially awkward high school boy who goes missing from that pull out. Once I ‘found’ Tommy, I knew his absence could pull all the stories together. In a weird way, Tommy would be the negative space at the heart of the novel around which all the stories of the people in the town revolved, only their stories would be a bit off course in the way that things go a bit wobbly when someone is missing.
That’s also when I added the fist person sections of the kids talking to the Sheriff about Tommy. I needed the urgency of their voices and their knowledge of Tommy to weave the world of the novel together. I took a risk interjecting first person sections with the third person stories. I mean, in the end, the reader of EVIDENCE steps into the perspective of twenty-one characters. That’s a lot to ask a reader but I think we live in this crazy exciting time as storytellers. Graphic novels. Fan fiction. Flash fiction. Novels in verse. It’s insane. And that’s just the reading format. If you turn on the television or go to the movies and plays, writers are taking big risks with story telling. Leaps in time, point of view shifts, simultaneous realities are all pretty common now. Do they all work? Probably not. But if your story is true to a character’s heart, your reader will go anywhere with you.
About EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN: When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pullout off the highway, so maybe someone snatched him. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it may be true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.
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About LINDSEY LANE: Award-winning author Lindsey Lane is proud to announce her debut YA novel EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers on September 16, 2014. Her picture book SNUGGLE MOUNTAIN (Clarion, 2003) is now available as an iTunes app, which Digital Storytime describes as “heartwarming and adorable with rich illustrations and lyrical text.” In 2010, Lindsey received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Lindsey is a featured presenter at many schools where she gets kids (of all ages) excited about writing. When she is not writing, reading or being a mom, Lindsey loves sweating at Bikkram yoga, seeing movies and plays, and enjoying some of the outrageously good food at Austin restaurants with friends.
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Our apartment windows are open; there’s pumpkin spice everywhere. Did you ever notice how people don’t know how to dress when seasons change? Some in shorts, others in boots while all the beer taps have had Oktoberfest and pumpkin-whatever for the last four weeks. (Sigh. The damn holiday creep.) Anyway, I’m glad the cooler weather cooperated with my round of Pub Date. Last week, Brittany kicked us off with a fall brew and I’m up to bat next with one of the books I treasure the most.
Here we go…
Narragansett Fest Lager = yum. I have never had a fall beer in a can (this is a new development) and I liked that even though this beer was heavier than I’ve been used to all summer, it was still on the light side. This beer is New England’s oldest beer and the official beer of the Red Sox (I know this makes Andi happy) which segues perfectly into my book pick: Openly Straight (my review from last summer).
Bill Konisberg has created one of my favorite books in the world about a character named Rafe who escapes his open town in Colorado where he is a celebrated gay teenager to a boarding school in New England where he doesn’t want to be defined by his sexuality at all. It works for a time, until it just can’t anymore. New friends, new feelings, and dealing with all he has left behind = a book full of such heart and honesty. Everyone needs to red this, and then pop open a Narragansett. (Lots of baseball jokes in the book too.)
For me more than any other season, fall feels like a new beginning. After sweating through the summer, it’s nice to snuggle into the comfort of your warmer clothes, seeking out the drinks and snacks you forgot about in the summer, and breathing in that fresh air. People go back to school, leaves start to fall from the trees and nothing beats an autumn in the Northeast. (I’m biased, probably.) Rafe’s time at boarding school, and his extreme efforts to keep who he really is a secret because he’s not sure that’s who he should have to be pair so perfectly with a less intense first brew for your fall.
As a bonus recommendation, try out Peak Organic Hop Harvest Oktoberfest.
As always, cheers and happy reading!
Psst. Don’t forget to leave any of your own fall beer recommendations below!
Jessica Darling’s IT List 2 by Megan McCafferty ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: 9/16/2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Target audience: middle grade/JD fans!
Keywords: making friends, middle school, big sisters, family
Format read: ARC from Elena at Novel Sounds. (Thanks!)
Summary: Despite the “luck” she had with the last IT list her sister passed on to her, Jessica needs all the help she can get as old friendships change and new ones in emerge.
While reading Jessica Darling’s IT List Part 2, I was reminded of how much Jessica marches to her own drum. Even though she gets comments on the old band t-shirts she loves to wear and how she wants to dress up like the Periodical Table of Elements for Halloween, she doesn’t change.
The fact that those things stay put when she is literally (I used it right!) questioning everything about her life? Totally admirable.
In the second book of this middle grade series, Jessica is navigating friendships like whoa. Her best friend Bridget seems to be relying more and more on the popular crowd and putting a lot of effort into her boyfriend. Then there’s Hope, who is someone Jess really clicks with but can be so hot and cold. And what about the girls on the track team? How does she know what’s real and what’s not when it seems like her longest and most important friendship is crumbling?
One of the the biggest highlights of this book for me was Jessica’s relationship with her grandma. With her parents so occupied, her grandmother is staying with them for a few weeks and I loved the sounding board she provided when Jessica was feeling a little lost. Not going to lie — made me tear up in some spots because of my own close relationship with my grandma at that age. It was a nice touch to have her a part of the story.
Once again, reading this brought me back to so many of the titles I loved at this age and also made me want to dust off my copy of Sloppy Firsts and get addicted to this heroine from the beginning I know best. I love that these books serve two purposes: entertaining young readers with realistic story lines and a pinch of humor and reminding us Jessica veterans why she is so important to us.
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The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Target audience: young adult/verse fans
Keywords: senior year, family secrets, pressure from parents, football, small town
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: Lauren is suddenly living in the small town when her aunt and uncle take her in. Colby is a star on the high school football team and as pressure to pick a college mounts, he wonders if anyone close to him knows him at all. A friendship forms between Lauren and Colby, unable to go any further but as they both have difficulties to face, they may need each other more than they think.
The two things I really love about verse books done right is how swiftly they move, and how much emotion they can evoke in a short block of words. Schroeder took an different angle with verse in The Bridge from Me to You: Lauren got the verse chapters and Colby’s was written in regular prose. This is where I wish I would have read a finished copy of this book because the formatting of Lauren’s pages were all over the place and I didn’t realize it was poetry vs. prose until a bit of the way in.
Anyway. Lauren and Colby are two really nice people. Even though Lauren has been shipped off to her uncle’s by her mother and Colby lost his mom, they are both people who are positive, fiercely care about their friends and family, and are determined to have great futures. It’s all the other factors in their lives that are affecting those happy endings. Not only has Lauren been cut off from her mom but her younger brother, and Colby can’t seem to stand up to his dad about his desire to study engineering in college and retire his football jersey for good.
Despite a great time hanging out the first time, Lauren and Colby’s friendship isn’t instantaneous. When Colby’s best friend gets in a terrible accident, he’s distracted and distant and it takes time before they find themselves in the same place. Colby and Lauren are very at ease with each other; I think it helps that Colby has someone to talk to who isn’t associated with their small town and vice versa, Colby doesn’t know Lauren’s mom. For both, it’s a blank slate.
Focused on having something instead of nothing, Lauren and Colby decide to focus on friendship even though they clearly want more. On each side, there is building pressure as Lauren must come to terms with the truth about her family and Colby has to make some serious decisions about what he will be doing next year. Verse and prose combination made the 300-plus pages fly by so fast, and I loved getting to be a part of this tiny football-loving town for a little while.
That being said, the writing style of the book made the characters feel younger than seniors. I wonder if Lauren’s poetry should have been a supplement to her own prose because there could have been so much more meat to her story. Same with Colby. With his best friend in the hospital and the trouble he has being honest with his dad, there was definitely more of an opportunity to dig deeper in this story. All “issues” seemed to solve themselves pretty quickly, and I would have loved to get more from the secondary characters.
The Bridge from Me to You was a welcome break to a long-string of prose books. In fact, it’s the first verse book I’ve read all year. It was a sweet, feel-good read, and the many mentions of junk food and baked goods (berry pie!) made me wish I had one by my side at all times.
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